April 5, 2023

High applications of pesticides puts Nigerian consumers at risk — Report

Nigerian Agricultural Sector

•… says Nigeria spends $384m on pesticide importation

By Gabriel Ewepu, Abuja

High applications of pesticides is not only threatening Nigeria’s food production, but  posing health risks to consumers, a report , “Pesticide Atlas”, has claimed .

The report released by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, HBF, said Nigeria is one of the largest importers of pesticides in Africa with $384 million. 

According to the report, up to 80 per cent of the most frequently used pesticides by small-scale farmers in Nigeria are Highly Hazardous Pesticides, HHPs.

The report reads in part, “As one of the largest importers of pesticides on the African continent, Nigeria faces mounting human and environmental health as well as economic challenges due to their high use.

“The Pesticide Atlas is a comprehensive overview of facts and figures on global pesticide production and consumption, its impact on people, biodiversity, and the climate, and alternative solutions.

“The aim of its release is to raise awareness, provide comprehensive information, and promote discourse around pesticide use in agriculture.

“Among other findings the Pesticide Atlas exposes that: The global pesticide market has almost doubled in the last 20 years. By 2023, the total value of all pesticides used is expected to reach nearly USD 130.7 billion.

“Nigeria is one of the largest importers of pesticides in Africa by volume of 147,477 tonnes in 2020, spending approximately USD 384 million in 2018 according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, FAO.

“Surveys have shown that up to 80 percent of the most frequently used pesticides by small-scale farmers in Nigeria are Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs).

Pesticides are classified as highly hazardous if they cause serious or irreversible damage to health or the environment. They can cause cancer or genetic defects, impair fertility or harm unborn children.

“Women farmers are more vulnerable, especially to pesticides that are hormonally active or known to disrupt the endocrine system. About 385 million cases of pesticide poisoning occur worldwide every year.

“Pesticides also contaminate water via infiltration, surface runoff, and drift. They accumulate in the soil and exert adverse effects on soil life – sometimes for decades.”

The report also showed that most pesticide products used in Nigeria are banned in European markets.

“More than half of all the pesticide products registered in Nigeria have been withdrawn from the European market or are heavily restricted due to, among other issues, their high toxicity.

“The high use of these toxic pesticides in Nigeria has negatively impacted export opportunities.

“In June 2015, the European Union banned the import of dried beans and other Nigerian agricultural products due to high levels of pesticide residues considered dangerous to human health.

“Despite being banned in their home jurisdictions, European companies continue to export these hazardous pesticide products to Nigeria and other African countries, creating a double standard in pesticides trade.

However, the report presented an alternative to use of pesticides by Nigerian farmers, “Alternatives to the high use of toxic pesticides exist.

“For example, agro-ecological cultivation practices, including more crop rotations and combinations, enable farmers to use less or no pesticides.”

Meanwhile, speaking on the worrisome situation in the Nigerian agricultural space, Prof Simon Irtwange of the Alliance for Action on Pesticides in Nigeria, AAPN, said : “Nigeria needs stricter pesticide regulations, in particular, we need to end the import of pesticides that have been banned in regions with high safety standards.

“These products have left Nigerian farmers vulnerable to acute and chronic health effects and damage fertile soil as they accumulate.”

The Director of Heinrich Böll Foundation in Nigeria, Jochen Luckscheiter, among others, said: “The fact that the German government has committed itself to create laws that will prohibit the export of pesticides banned in the EU due to their harmful effects is a welcome development.

“Aside from stopping the import of these toxic substances, Nigeria should chart a deliberate path towards an overall reduction in pesticide use.”